Anime Reporter ushers in the end of an anime era with Dragon Ball Collection 05 (episodes 123-153), also known as the Piccolo Jr. Saga, bringing the series to a close.
For anime fans, this series needs little introduction. Dragon Ball is perhaps neither as famous nor as popular as its sequel Dragon Ball Z and the tone of this earlier series was often lighter and more innocent, with the protagonist being a fairly innocent child for most of the series and a pretty large helping of talking animals throughout.
The Piccolo Jr. Saga effectively serves as a neat bridge for the much darker and more violent Z series. The saga starts off in the aftermath of Goku’s hard earned victory against King Piccolo, a rather versatile and demonic opponent, bent on world domination and destruction. The young Goku just about manages to defeat the dreaded king but not without a few injuries of his own. The final Dragon Ball saga starts with Goku being rushed away for medical attention. Once he’s a little bit recovered, he’s eager to re-double his training, particularly once he learns that the Earth isn’t quite out of danger yet. Indeed, as you may well have guessed from the name of this storyline, Piccolo went and had himself a son, (rather graphically too, though not in the way people might traditionally make a son). This diminutive Piccolo is just as full of malice and hatred as his father was and is determined to make Goku pay for his father’s death.
Meanwhile, Goku undergoes a spot of training under a brand new master and learns to his utter delight that he still has a long way to go and there are still plenty of fighters out there that can put him through his paces. After a few episodes detailing a few of the basic ordeals that will make up Goku’s newest branch of Eye of the Tiger style training, the series skips forward three years, just in time for the very next World Tournament, where Goku is reunited with his old friends and where he comes face to face with Piccolo’s reincarnation (the whole son/reincarnation thing is made just a little bit unclear within the series).
Fans of the earlier Dragon Ball episodes will be no strangers to the World Tournament and its high stakes battles while fans of Dragon Ball Z should be more than aware of how everything turns out between Goku and Piccolo. Even so, this particular World Tournament holds more than a few surprises for many characters and viewers alike.
After the events of the tournament and the inevitable Goku Vs Piccolo Jr. fight, there are a few episodes with a now fairly grown up Goku as he prepares to say goodbye to his childhood and start the next chapter of his life. This involves a pretty dangerous quest reminiscent of his early days seeking the dragon balls as well as the welcome appearance of a fond and familiar face.
As with the other episodes in this series, the animation can feel a little bit basic, though it’s entirely excellent, considering that it originally aired twenty six years ago. It’s actually quite possible to notice a shift in the animation within this collection, becoming more polished as we move towards an older Goku, making his way towards the testosterone-fuelled epics of Dragon Ball Z.
It’s hard to get too choked up at the end of Dragon Ball, knowing that so many of Goku’s greatest days are ahead of him but the end of this series feels like an early rite of passage. Our little Dragon Ball is all grown up now and ready to head out into the world. Ah bless.
Dragon Ball Collection 05 is out on DVD in the UK and Ireland from 24th November 2014 from Manga Entertainment UK.
Nostalgia Factor: 9
83% – “A Fond Farewell!” – Dragon Ball Collection 05 ups the drama and introduces a darker tone to its fledgling series, paving the way for the more intense fare to come. A darker nemesis and higher stakes don’t get in the way of this series’ charm, however, and the series ends on just the right note. Top notch stuff!